Stressed about a new baby? If so, you’re not alone – and researchers have put a dollar figure on that stress of $85,000 for mums in the first year of baby’s life.
This research from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research is the first of its kind to propose a dollar value equivalent to the increase in time pressure and stress for new mothers.
“The largest immediate effect of the birth of a baby is the time stress felt by new mothers,” said Dr Hielke Buddelmeyer, lead researcher of the paper.
“The $85,000 figure reflects the extra earnings the mother would have to receive to reduce her financial stress by as much as the birth increases her time stress.”
“The cost of a baby goes well beyond nappies and baby clothes,” said Dr Buddelmeyer. “This research set out to quantify some of the invisible costs – in this case, the increase in feeling pressed for time.”
In addition, the research found that women are three times more time stressed than men in the first year of a baby’s life.
While both partners experience some financial stress immediately following the birth of a baby, the mother’s financial stress following the birth of a baby is larger than the father’s.
The cost in stress terms doesn't end when they're no longer a baby.
“In tracking the time stress of a mother at different stages of her child’s life we found that when the child is at primary school the perceived financial stress reduces, but then increases again when the child is a teenager.”
And if you’re waiting for the time when they’re off your hands and moved out of home, the research shows that while this reduces the parents’ time stress, it’s by less than a new baby increases it. In other words, you’re always in deficit.
“While the significant additional stress experienced by new mothers is a challenge, the positive effects of having a child must outweigh the negatives or else people wouldn’t continue to choose to have babies,” said Dr Buddelmeyer.
The report is based on findings collected through the extensive Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, managed by the Melbourne Institute based on responses from 20,000 Australians.